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Hospitals donate $10 million for campaign with Ad Council to reduce gun violence


The initiative was announced at Northwell Health’s annual forum on gun violence. Officials said it’s a step in a goal of raising $40 million over the next two years.

A group of hospitals and health systems have come together in a campaign to reduce gun violence and deaths, and now they’re taking those efforts to another level.

Image: Northwell Health

Michael Dowling, president and CEO of Northwell Health, and other hospital systems are teaming with the Ad Council on a campaign to reduce deaths from gun violence.

Several health systems have donated $10 million in a partnership with The Ad Council on an initiative to curb gun violence. The hospitals are members of the National Health Care CEO Council on Gun Violence Prevention and Safety.

The money is meant to serve as the “seed” to launch a campaign to raise $40 million over the next two years. The initiative was announced Tuesday at Northwell Health’s Gun Violence Prevention Forum.

Michelle Hillman, chief campaign development officer for The Ad Council, talked about the opportunity the campaign has to make a difference.

“Gun violence prevention is not a policy issue. Not anymore. It is a public health crisis. And it's time that we treat it that way,” Hillman said during the forum.

Michael Dowling, president and CEO of Northwell Health, said the campaign can play an important role in educating Americans about ways to reduce deaths in injuries from firearms. Dowling helped create the CEO council on gun violence.

“Imagine the power of this nationally, irrespective of politics, where we send the message that this is important for you, the public, to understand,” Dowling said at the forum Tuesday.

The lead funding for the project with the Ad Council has been provided by BJC Health System, Froedtert ThedaCare Health, Inc., Intermountain Health, Johns Hopkins Medicine, MedStar Health and Northwell Health. The Children's Hospital Association, Endeavor Health and Yale New Haven Health have also provided significant funding, the groups said.

Hillman pointed out that most Americans view gun violence as a serious issue, noting that 79% of Americans say it’s one of their top concerns. However, she said only 26% know that gun violence is the leading cause of death among children.

“There is a huge opportunity here for us to educate people on facts and resources to truly normalize conversations and behavior around gun safety and save lives,” Hillman said. “And at the Ad Council, we know we are in a unique position to really convene trusted partners, issue experts, healthcare leaders, funding partners to really create an unprecedented coalition of brilliant minds and open hearts.”

Matt Cook, CEO of the Children's Hospital Association, said in a statement that pediatric hospitals see the toll of gun violence all too clearly.

“Children's hospitals are on the frontlines of pediatric emergency care, treating children and teens as they heal from the acute physical and enduring emotional wounds of gun violence, and supporting their families as they recover,” Cook said in a statement. “It is our duty as an association of children's hospitals to bring awareness to the youth gun violence crisis and we are proud to join with other hospital leaders in a campaign to make children safer."

In 2021, there were 4,752 pediatric firearm deaths nationwide, which represents a 41.6% increase since 2018, according to a study done by Northwell Health researchers and published in Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Even though gun control is often viewed as a highly polarizing issue, Hillman says there can be agreement on some solutions. “ We have a long history of meeting people where they are to truly promote a culture of togetherness where everyone can thrive,” she said.

She pointed to a public education campaign, “End Family Fire,” designed to get more people to store guns safely. More than half (56%) of those who own guns or live in gun-owning households are aware of that campaign, and those who are aware of it are four times more likely to lock up their guns more securely, she said.

“Everyone in America has a role to play in bending the curve on this uniquely American epidemic,” Hillman said. “Whether you're a gun owner or non gun owner, parent, grandparents, health care workers, it's going to take all of us all of us in this room and in our communities. I truly believe that we are at a tipping point.”

Dowling spearheaded the formation of the Health Care CEO group on gun violence, which now includes nearly 60 top executives. He spoke about the significance of getting some large health organizations to work with the Ad Council to help reach more Americans and potentially reduce the number of lives lost to gun violence.

“That is a real power here,” Dowling said. “When you get some of the biggest organizations in the country, … coming together with a powerhouse like the Ad Council, imagine, just imagine what we can do.”

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